Ever since I first started labeling myself as an Anarcho-Conservative, people have been questioning the meaning of this term, or even flat out refusing to acknowledge its logical existence. I am going to attempt to clear up some misconceptions about not only Anarcho-Conservatism, but Conservatism in its entirety. As a forenote, I do not claim the honor of creating the term Anarcho-Conservatism, although I also do not know where the term originated from. I am only addressing the term as it applies to me.
First, let us look at what Anarchy is. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, Anarchy is “the absence of any form of political authority”. This falls in line with the mainstream interpretation of the word. Expounding upon this, as Anarchy is the lack of political authority, it becomes logically necessary to distinguish between two different forms of a lack of political authority. There is the breakdown of government because it is no longer needed, or what I will call positive Anarchy, and the breakdown of a needed government due to revolution, rebellion, natural disasters, invasion, or any of numerous other events. This is best described as negative Anarchy, as the lack of government has a negative impact on the populace. Naturally, it follows that positive Anarchy is desirable, while negative Anarchy is not. Communism is the ideal example of this. In True Communism, the philosophical form, the people reject government and live in communes where they share what they have for the mutual good of all. Something similar to that is the Christian idea of the Church, where all the Christians in the area support each other and even non-believers through mission and ministry work. You give whatever you can, trusting God to look after you, and in the process, build the level of community Marx spoke of. Instead of getting into Christianity v. Marxism, which is a topic for another article, I will conclude Anarchy by saying that positive Anarchy is utopia, while negative Anarchy is dystopic in nature.
Now we must look to the second half of the label. Conservatism. Conservatism is less a political ideology and more a means to achieve it. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, Conservatism is “a political philosophy or attitude emphasizing respect for traditional institutions, distrust of government activism, and opposition to sudden change in the established order”. Thus, it can be said that Conservatism is the method of change that exists in opposition to extreme acts of rebellion, revolution, etc, barring extreme situations. This is not to say that Conservatives oppose change as, quite often, they disagree with the current state of government, but they are shown as different in their support of change by seeking change within the system, instead of seeking to end it. Further, hearing that a person is Conservative does not give any clue as to what their political ideology is. King Louis XVI and President Lincoln were both Conservatives. It is doubtful they would agree on how a government should be run. This is why you must look at the cultural/social context of the individual, or, in the case of today, you must assign a modifier to Conservative to distinguish what their ultimate goals are. As of now, in the U.S., there are four main branches of Conservatism. They are Paleo-Conservatism, Neo-Conservatism, Religious-Conservatism, and Libertarian-Conservatism. Paleo-Conservatism has an emphasis on preserving the cultures and traditions of a society, mainly through isolationism, while Neo-Conservatism has an emphasis on national security and spreading democracy abroad. These two are typically mutually exclusive, as Louis XVI would be a Paleo-Conservative, but a Neo-Conservative would attempt to dethrone him. Religious-Conservatism places a high value on moral and ethical traditions, but often singles out a specific religion to support, such as Christianity in the U.S. This often causes conflict with Libertarian-Conservatives, who typically oppose any sort of restriction on their freedoms or rights, including religious ones.
Thus, Anarcho-Conservatism would be gradual change in support of an eventual positive anarchy. Anarcho-Conservatism, as I apply it, is best described as the belief that government exists only to protect Life, Liberty, and Property. That fundamental, Natural Rights, must be protected, but the government should stay out of everything else. Anarcho-Conservatism, however, is achieved through a fusion of three of the four branches of American Conservatism. Since Positive Anarchy can not be achieved while totalitarian regimes threaten peace, it becomes necessary for all nations to be transformed into democratic, capitalist nations in order to ensure the freedom of the people in them, as well as the safety of the people abroad. It is for this same reason that policing forces must exist within each nation in order to protect the safety of those inside the nation. This brings several aspects of Neo-Conservatism into the picture, as a strong military and strong alliances are necessary to ensure peace and prosperity globally. Additionally, since Positive Anarchy is dependent upon individuals respecting the lives and freedoms of others, Libertarian-Conservatism plays a major part. Paleo-Conservatism does not fit into Anarcho-Conservatism, mainly because Anarchy has no traditional merit. As for Religious-Conservatism, due to the necessity of religion in all societies, and the necessary enforcement of morality in a society, which will be addressed in a future article, Religious-Conservatism is present insofar as much as the necessary amount of moral laws to protect liberties without infringing upon them.
This is Anarcho-Conservatism as I use it. Gradual change with the ultimate goal of a stable, peaceful, prosperous society completely devoid of the need for government, and thus, government itself. For those who still disagree about what Conservatism is, well, I will let the greatest president of the 20th Century speak for me:
“If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. I think conservatism is really a misnomer just as liberalism is a misnomer for the liberals—if we were back in the days of the Revolution, so-called conservatives today would be the Liberals and the liberals would be the Tories. The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.” – Ronald Reagan.